NYPD cruiser. (Ciorra Photography)
The New York City Police Department and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office are investigating accusations by a Manhattan judge that officers misrepresented the circumstances surrounding the arrest of a protester, an NYPD legal official said Tuesday.
On Monday, Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Stephen Antignani acquitted Cristina Winsor of a disorderly conduct charge she received while taking part in a Black Lives Matter demonstration in July 2016.
Winsor is a plaintiff in a civil suit challenging the NYPD’s use of its own legal staffers to prosecute low-level charges that she and another protester received during Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
According to a transcript of proceedings on Sept. 27 in Winsor’s disorderly conduct case, Antignani told Neil Fenton of the NYPD Legal Bureau that there were “credibility issues” with the officers who testified in the case and that their stories didn’t match up with what can be seen on video recordings made by bystanders to Winsor’s arrest.
The discrepancies include whether or not there was scaffolding on the sidewalk at the scene of the arrest, which caused some protesters to walk in the street, and the presence of police vehicles at the scene.
What can be seen in the video, the judge said to Fenton, according to the transcript, “is totally different from what your officers, who on first blush came across quite credibly, what they told me happened.”
During a panel discussion at the New York City Bar Association that centered around the issue of police testimony, Lawrence Byrne, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for legal matters, said the department is conducting an internal investigation and has also requested that the Manhattan DA investigate.
In an interview after the forum, Byrne confirmed that the investigation centers around the officers and not Fenton.